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Animal welfare improvements do not necessarily improve public opinion, study finds
The pig farming sector has already introduced measures to focus on single aspects of animal welfare concerns.

Researchers assess key areas of concern in pig husbandry

A new study, which has used a comprehensive approach to assess the impact of husbandry changes on farm income, public attitudes and animal welfare, has found that measures to improve animal welfare do not automatically effect public opinion.

In response to public concerns about animal welfare, the pig farming sector introduced new measures to focus on single aspects of animal welfare concerns, rather than multiple aspects,  however these changes did not improve public opinion.

The new study – published in the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) journal Animal Welfare – was carried out in the Netherlands. Researchers evaluated animal welfare measures in terms of their effect on animal wellbeing, farm income and public attitudes.

Four common areas of concern in pig husbandry were defined – piglet mortality, tail biting and the indoor housing of gestating sows. Researchers assessed four husbandry changes within each area, including camera surveillance of farrowing, tail docking with analgesia, and provision of straw.

A simulation model was created to estimate and compare the effects of each of these measures for animal welfare, farm income and public opinion.

The results showed that even the most efficient measure in terms of welfare – that which included straw provision, daylight and increased group sizes for gestating sows – still had a low effect on public attitudes.

Ultimately, researchers concluded from the results that measures which improve animal welfare do not necessarily equate to the same degree of improvement in either public attitudes or farm income.

Co-author of the study Dr Tamara Bergstra said: “Our findings indicate that it is essential to use a more comprehensive approach for evaluating animal welfare measures that integrate animal welfare, farm income and public attitudes.” 

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Prestigious veterinary awards open for nominations

News Story 1
 Nominations for the prestigious PetPlan Veterinary Awards 2022 are now open, with five accolades up for grabs including: Practice of the Year; Vet of the Year, Vet Nurse of the Year, Practice Manager of the Year and Practice Support Staff.

Anyone can nominate an outstanding veterinary professional or practice for an award, from colleagues to pet owners, friends and family. Nominations remain anonymous, and Petplan will send everyone who receives a nomination a certificate to display in their practice.

Nominations can be made at and remain open until Monday 10 January. 

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News Shorts
New online CPD otitis podcast created

A new 15 minute podcast on treating animals with otitis has been created by Dechra Veterinary Products. Featuring general practice vet Carolyn Kyte and veterinary dermatology specialist Natalie Barnard, the two vets will discuss their experiences treating otitis, and why owners are significant in successful treatment.

Dechra Brand Manager Carol Morgan commented: "What Carolyn and Natalie bring to the table with their new podcast for the Dechra Academy is a light and insightful discussion about communication and education being the keystone for better otitis outcomes and how vets can improve on their consultation skills to handle cases better."`

The podcast, called 'Think Differently about Otitis', is available to access for free on the Dechra Academy on-demand learning platform here.